Thursday, January 30, 2014

Volumes of Growth


      I took this picture a couple days ago when Taylor's second copy of her Brailled math book arrived for us to lug home. The two boxes filled with braille volumes is the same content included in the purple text book. (It was ordered in June last year, so it took a little while.  Luckily, the school's copy was there for her to use beginning in September.)    I looked at this photo in a whole different light after a few minutes.  This picture symbolizes the growth I've made since Taylor's birthday nearly 11 years ago.
     The sheer immensity of the volumes and volumes of books can be overwhelming as I look at it compared with the print version Lauren in holding in her hands.  I realize since Taylor's birthday, I have grown by volumes!  I have also had to "lug" some lessons around.  It isn't easy and sometimes feels overwhelming.  It can't be carried all at once.  I have to learn a little bit at a time or I become paralyzed with fear.  I need help carrying the load all the time, and I have been blown away by the support team God's given me in Mike, our family, and friends.  Just like the learning that comes from opening each volume of that book, I am so grateful for Taylor and the crazy volumes of learning that come from our life with her.  Now, I hope that next year when we get the Braille home copies of the literature, math, social studies, and science books it isn't a representation of the amount of learning I'll be doing in one year!!!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Help Needed

     Mark 10:46-52 and Luke 18:35-43

     A few weeks ago I was feeling like I wanted to do more to help at church.  I have definitely made a shift from helping at church to helping with the girls' schools and activities, and it's been a perfect switch for the time.  I have missed being involved with the families of our church on a more regular basis.  The last few months have been awesome...Lauren, Taylor and I help out once a month with the 2 & 3 year-olds.  Taylor also brings her keyboard and sings worship songs for both this age group and the 4 & 5 year-olds.  How sweet it's been to serve alongside my girls and watching their gifts and talents being used for Jesus.
     So along came an email just as I was contemplating how I could get a bit more involved looking for someone who would come up with craft ideas to go along with our stories of the month.  I definitely thought this was right up my alley and something I'd be interested in doing, especially since I didn't have to gather the materials, make the sample or anything...just get the ideas together and put it on paper for someone else to follow.  Basically, I would be writing a short craft lesson based on Bible stories...exactly what I LOVE to do in the classroom every day with our reading stories!
     So, I emailed our Children's Director back and said I was interested.  Guess what the first story would be....Bartimaeus, the man who couldn't see!  WHAT?  Are you kidding?  No way!  I knew this was definitely my new place to help.  Not only was the timing right, the story touches my heart each time I read it. 
     Bartimaeus is about a blind man who hears the commotion as Jesus is coming near and yells out, "Jesus, Son of David have mercy on me!"  Everyone tells him to be quiet, but he shouts all the more...and louder!  He knew Jesus could heal him, and Jesus does indeed heal him.  The things I love about this story are that even though others told him to be quiet, Bartimaeus shouts all the louder to the One who could heal him.  I want to be shouting to the One who can heal me in all situations.  In the midst of the crowd, Bartimaeus hears Jesus's voice.  I want to hear Jesus in the midst of my crowded life.  In the midst of the crowd, Jesus hears Bartimaeus.  Jesus always hears me when I call.  Bartimaeus threw off his cloak and ran to Jesus when he couldn't see but followed His voice.  I can run to Jesus even when I am not clearly seeing the path He's laid out for me to follow.  And best of all, Bartimaeus's first sight is that of his healer...Jesus.  Jesus heals us on the inside and out.  Taylor's first sight will be Jesus.  Oh, how comforting and beautiful that is for me all the time.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


     There have been many Mom-moments in my life the last few weeks.  I have seen some super exciting "ups" but have seen some sad "downs" these last few weeks with respect to different moms in my life.  It's made me realize how lucky I am to be a mom, to have my mom and my mother-in-law, special friends, sisters and sisters-in-law for lifelong friends and role models.
     Yesterday, I was invited to a "Celebration of Life" for a "Kindergarten Mom" as we called ourselves, a group of 6 moms who met when our children were in Kindergarten together.  (Those kids are now in seventh grade!)  This woman, Sue, fought lung cancer before succumbing to it after 9 years.  She used every single day of that 9 years to invest in her one and only son, Jake.  Her son knew his mom because of Sue's daily fight to give him one more day with his mom.
     This month, an incredible woman lost her one and only opportunity to become a mom when the surrogate chosen to carry their baby miscarried that unborn life.  This woman was Lauren and Taylor's 3rd grade teacher who has left her handprints all over my daughters' hearts.  She fought and won her battle with breast cancer, but she was diagnosed before she and her husband had children of their own.  I could not imagine a greater mom than Mrs. Edwards.  She mothers over 30 students each day, and she brings life into the classroom with her creativity stemming from the amazing things her mom taught her.
     I do not claim to understand the whys of this world, and often times, it's all I can do to put one foot in front of the other so I don't think too long and hard about the sufferings of others.  That is when I become paralyzed in my own functioning.  I do know these two women have made me appreciate my own daughters that much more.  I am grateful I get to spend time with them, grateful I get to learn about parenting and more about life in general because of them.  I am thankful for my own mom and the unbelievable memories we have together throughout my entire lifespan.  I am thankful for my mother-in-law who has taught me so much and has treated me like her own daughter.  I want to seize opportunities with Lauren and Taylor like never before.  I want to be a mom they love, respect, have fun with, and one with whom they can share all their ups and downs.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Best Day Ever

    There's this amazing foundation called "The Best Day Ever Foundation."  The name truly speaks for itself!  This organization puts together a day for disabled youth that can be the youngsters' best day ever.  Taylor got to experience a day of paddle boarding, outrigger canoeing, swimming, and all-around goofing off with her sister and two volunteers.  There were more volunteers than participants, and it was spectacular. 
     There was one interaction between Taylor and the paddle board instructor that cracked our whole family up. 

     "Do you see those dogs in the water?"  asks the instructor.
     "No. I can't see them," replies Taylor.
     "Here.  I'll point them out to you."  Instructor points to them. "Do you see them now?"
     "No, I can't see."
     "Oh," he says.  "It's hard to see them anyways," finishes paddle board instructor who doesn't understand that Taylor really CAN'T see them...EVER because SHE CAN'T SEE!!!

     I was definitely left with a great lesson to learn.  I feel like often times there are those obvious things RIGHT there in my life that I just can't see.  More often, it's because I don't want to look or really don't want to see what's right there before me.  Other times, it's God pointing out things to me subtly at first and then a little more directed.  I also realize things that are so obvious to others are things I am just not seeing. The opposite is true too.  I think that is why we need one another.  God uses Himself, others, and us to work together to point out new things.  It's such a beautiful example of strong teamwork and working together to make each day The Best Day Ever.

 Brooks (her instructor) and Taylor on the paddle board.

 Taylor and Lauren with their special volunteers for the day